Blue Grass plant workers and personnel from Madison and surrounding counties responded to a simulated chemical event at the Blue Grass Army Depot during an annual preparedness exercise Sept. 18.
“The scenario was the explosion of GB rockets in the Blue Grass Chemical Activity storage area,” said Jeremy Sayre, emergency preparedness manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “Plant workers were instructed to don their M40 masks and shelter in place and we performed accountability actions to ensure workers at given locations were accounted for.”
The scenario also involved responders operating decontamination centers and traffic control points, among other actions, said Dustin Heiser, director, Madison County Emergency Management Agency. Area hospitals practiced responses to potentially contaminated patients, as well. The effort spanned ten counties in central Kentucky and engaged hundreds of people.
“We work with many different local, state and federal agencies and organizations for these exercises, plus we bring in evaluators from related organizations across the United States,” Heiser said. “Eastern Kentucky University also provides students to play roles as decontamination process participants and hospital patients and to staff positions in the Joint Information Center. Our highest priority is the safety of the community, so we practice hard.”
The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program exercises will continue as long as the chemical weapons are being stored and destroyed at the depot, Heiser said. But once the weapons are gone, the training and experience gained by emergency response personnel will continue to benefit the community in the event of other emergencies.